Category Archives: France

What Paris Means to Me

As I watched the horrific November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris unfold from the safety and comfort of my home thousands of miles away across the vast Atlantic Ocean, I was overtaken by a profound sense of shock, sadness and loss.

Although we quickly received confirmation that our family was safe, we found out that my brother-in-law and youngest nephew, who is Chloe’s age, were in the audience watching the soccer match between France and Germany at the Stade de France that night.  They were oblivious to what was happening outside the stadium gates until after the game was over. It took them much longer than usual to get home, but they did make it home a few hours later, unlike the 130 people who died and scores of others who were wounded in the attacks.

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Home Again, in Paris

Do you have a special place that feels like home even though it is not your home? For me, that place is Paris. No matter that I haven’t lived there in almost 20 years. Every time I return, it’s as if I never left.

The time-traveling architecture, the omnipresent statuary, the distinct industrial perfume that wafts through the hallways of the métro, the strident cries of ambulance and police sirens, the colors and scents of the outdoor markets, the leisurely café life…these are all familiar and comforting to me. Like home.

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

After a couple of days in Paris our magnificent vacation has reached its end.  My impression of Paris this go-round was definitely colored by the fact that we had just spent the previous 4+ weeks exploring the much less frenetic and incredibly picturesque countryside.

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Memories Formed Among the Ruins and While Kayaking, Too

When all is said and done, our most vivid memories of the past week in the Gard region of France can be visually summed up in the photos below.  We enjoyed another week of beautiful weather, great sights, outdoor activities galore and yummy food.  And after spending almost five weeks of non-stop time together, we are still talking to each other.  

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Romans, Romans Everywhere (and Peeing Kids and Bulls,Too)

I promised the kids a break from castles and I have lived up to that promise.  In order to avoid more towers and moats and ramparts and winding staircases and royal gardens, we have traveled further back in time.  About 2,000 years to be exact.  When the Roman Empire extended into Gaul, or what is now current-day France.

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No More Castles, I Promise

I can finally say with a great deal of confidence that we have finished the castle-touring portion of our trip. We’ve seen furnished castles, partially completed castles, enormous castles, tiny castles and castles in ruins. Gallo-Roman castles, medieval castles, Cathar castles, Renaissance castles and strange neo-Gothic castles.

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The Doomed Cathars

Here’s the deal.  If you love medieval art and architecture, or just love really old things, you’d love this trip.  If not, you might still love the landscape, the wine and the food.  And then, there’s always chocolate.  Tons of it, literally.  Like in the store below (yes, those are huge slabs of chocolate).

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In the Middle of Cathar Country, Heaven on Earth

Medieval. Medieval. Medieval. Everywhere we go we are surrounded by very old stuff.  I love it.  It makes me happy.  I’ve dragged my husband and the girls all over the southwest region of France in order to soak in these small pearls of art and architecture and there’s still so much more to see!  I am driving them nuts, but it’s worth the insanity to see these beautiful sights.

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Medieval Art and the Pink City

After two weeks of visiting castles and the sea, we made our way to Toulouse in the southwest of France. Toulouse is the country’s fourth largest city and the center of France’s aeronautic industry.  And if you’re an art history lover like me, the region is a treasure trove of medieval masterpieces.

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Café Life and a Visit to La Rochelle

Yesterday afternoon I abandoned Papa and the girls at the beach so I could enjoy part of the afternoon at a café overlooking the sea.  Before leaving them to bother their dad and fight with each other, however, I witnessed Chloe and Sophie jump off the harbor pier into the ocean, fervently hoping that (1) they wouldn’t get hurt and (2) we wouldn’t get yelled at for doing it. Fortunately, they both survived and we didn’t get arrested.

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